Skip to main content

Full text of "The dear departing : a frivolous performance in one act"

See other formats

|jie Dear Depart- 
H ig ^ Frivolous Ter- 
)rmance in One ^Act 
by Leonid Andreyev 

Translated by Julius West 

P W R 


CAN oiceo 

The Dear Departing 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



The Dear Departing A Frho- 
lous Performance in One Act 
by Leonid Andreyev Trans- 
lated by Julius West 



The Deab Depakting appears to have been written with no 
intention of stage production. The characters are not described 
as specifically as would have been the case had the author borne 
this possibility in mind. The cast is divided into the following 
groups, the size of which is left to the imagination of the reader 
or the capacity of the producer : ' 

TouEiSTS (unspecified). Children (mostly 

Photographers. Eussian). 

Drunkards. English Tourists. 

Salvationists. Italian Musicians. 

The remaining characters are : 

A Bloodthirsty Lady. 
The Father of a Family 

The Mother of another 

A Stranger. 
A Clergyman. 
A Pedlar. 


The Landlord of a 
Hotel and Caf£. 

A Special Correspon- 

A Mule. 

An Advertisement. 

Two Policemen. 




A wild place in the mountains. 

On an almost perpendicular rock, a man is perched 
in a dangerous and inaccessible position. It is difficult 
to explain how he got there — but there he is, and cannot 
be reached either from above or below. A short ladder, 
ropes and poles bear witness to fruitless attempts at 

Apparently the stranger has already spent a con- 
siderable time in his precarious situation, for a fair-sized 
and variegated crowd Jias had time to assemble. Here 
are pedlars selling cooling drinks, and even a little cafe, 
all complete, around which a perspiring waiter is rushing, 
in the all but impossible task of supplying everybody's 
orders. Other pedlars are going round with cards, 
souvenirs, and all sorts of odds-and-ends ; one of them 
is trying to dispose of tortoise-shell combs, which, as a 
matter of fact, are not mode of tortoise-shell. Tourists 
are continually arriving, attracted by rumours of an 
imminent calamity. There are Englishmen, Germans, 
Russians, Frenchmen, Italians, etc., all shovnng their 
national peculiarities in their manners and dress. 
Nearly all have alpenstocks, binoculars, and cameras. 
They talk in several languages, which, for the benefit of 
our readers, we reproduce in one only. 

At the foot of the rock, where the stranger must fall. 


two policemen are standing, keeping moay the children, 
and attempting to hold back the crowd by means of a 
piece of thin string. 
General tumult. 

First Policeman. Now then, out of it, you young 
rascal ! What'U your papa and mama say if he falls 
on your head 1 

The Boy, WiU he come down here ? 

First Policeman. Yes, here. 

The Boy. Won't he come any further ? 

Second Policeman. The boy's right : he might 
spring up, break through the cord, and do some harm 
to the spectators. He can't weigh less than twelve 

First Policeman. Off you go ! Where are you 
getting to, little girl ? Is this your daughter, madam ? 
Please remove her : the young man will drop down 
in a minute. 

The Lady. In a minute ? Oh, mon Dieu ! And 
my husband won't be here to see ! 

The Little Girl. He's at the bar, mama. 

The Lady. {In distress.) Yes, yes, of course, he's 
always at the bar. Call him, Nelly, say he's going to 
drop in a minute. Quick ! Quick ! 

Voices. {From the cafe.) Kellner ! — Waiter! — 
Gar9on 1 — Beer ! . . . We haven't any beer . . . What ? 
What's that ? . . . What a rotten place ! . . . There'll 
be some in a minute. . . . Hurry up. . . . Kellner ! 
. . . Waiter ! . . . Gar^on ! 

The First Policeman. You again, young man ! 
The Boy. I only wanted to take that stone away. 
First Policeman. But why ? 


The Boy. So he shouldn't hurt himself when he fell. 

Second Policeman. The kid's right : we've got 
to take away some stones and clear more space. 
Hasn't anybody any sand or sawdust ? 

{Two English tourists approach. They examine 
the Stranger throiigh their binoculars, and 
exchange observations.) 

First Englishman. He's young. 

Second Englishman. How old ? 

First Englishman, Twenty-eight. 

Second Englishman. Twenty-six. Looks older 
because he's afraid. 

First Englishman. Will you bet on it ? 

Second Englishman. Ten to one. Will you make 
a note of it 1 

First Englishman. ( Writes it down. To a Police- 
man.) Can you tell me how he got there ? Why don't 
they take him down ? 

Policeman. They tried, but it was no good. 
Haven't any ladders long enough. 

Second Englishman. Has he been there long ? 

Policeman. Two days. 

First Englishman. Oh ! He'll come down to- 

Second Englishman. Within two hours. Bet 
onit ? 

First Englishman. Note it down ! {To the 
Stranger, shouts.) How do you feel ? What ? I can't 

The Stranger. {Almost inaudibly.) Rotten ! 

The Lady. Oh, mon Dieu 1 And my husband isn't 

Little Girl. {Running up.) Papa says he'll be 


here quite soon ; he's playing chess with another 

The Lady. Oh, mon Dieu ! Tell him, Nelly, that 
I insist. . . . By the way . . . wiU it be long before 
he falls, sergeant ? No, NeUy, you'd better go, and 
I'U keep a place for father. 

{A tall, thin lady, with a peculiarly independent 
and bloodthirsty appearance, is quarrelling 
with some tourist about her place. He is a 
weak little man and does not know how to 
insist upon his rights ; the lady grows fiercer .) 

The Tourist. But it's my place, madam ; I've 
been here two hours. 

Bloodthirsty Lady. What difference does it 
make to me how long you've been standing here ? 
I wish to stand here ; understand ? I'U see better 
from here ; understand ? 

Tourist. {Feebly.) But I can see better from here, 

Bloodthirsty Lady. If you please ! What do 
you know about these things ? 

Tourist. But what is there to know ? The man's 
got to drop, and that's all. 

Bloodthirsty Lady. The man's got to drop, and 
that's aU ! On my word I Have you ever seen a 
man faU ? No ? I've seen it happen three times ; 
two acrobats, a tight-rope walker, and three aviators. 

Tourist. That makes six. 

Bloodthirsty Lady. That makes six ! What a 
briUiant mathematician you are, to be sure ! And 
have you ever seen a tiger, in a menagerie, tear-r-r 
a woman to pieces before your very eyes ? Eh ? I 
thought not ! I've seen it, though ! If you please ! 


{The, tourist shrugs his shoulders as if insulted, 
and the thin lady spreads herself out over 
the stone she ha^ won by conquest. She takes 
out of her reticule various handkerchiefs, pepper- 
mint drops, a little flask, and places them 
around her ; she then takes off her gloves, and 
wipes the lenses of her binoculars, placidly 
looking round on the other spectators. She 
turns to the lady whose husband is in the cafe.) 
Bloodthirsty Lady. {Condescendingly.) You'll 
make yourself so tired, darling. Why not sit down ? 
The Lady. Oh, don't, please 1 My legs are quite 

Bloodthirsty Lady. Men nowadays have no 
manners at all. They'd never think of giving up their 
place to a lady. Have you any peppermint drops ? 

The Lady. {Frightened.) No. Are they 
necessary ? 

Bloodthirsty Lady. When you've been looking 
upwards for a long time you are bound to feel faint. 
And haven't you any sal ammoniac ? No ? Dear 
me, how thoughtless of you ! How are we to bring 
you round again after he's dropped ? And no ether, 
I suppose ? Well, of course I If you're like that, 
what can you . . . isn't there anybody here to look 
after you ? 

The Lady. {Frighten^.) I'll tell my husband. 
He's in the cafe ! 
Bloodthirsty Lady. Your husband's a scoundrel ! 
A Policeman. Whose jacket's this ? Who threw 
the thing down here ? 

The Boy. I did. I put it there so it shouldn't 
hurt him so much to fall. 


The Policeman. Take it away. 

{Some tourists, armed with cameras, are arguing 
as to the best position.) 

First Tourist. I wanted to stand here. 

Second Tourist. So you may have done, but I've 
got here first. 

First Tourist. You've only just come, and I've 
been here two days. 

Second Tourist. Then why did you go away and 
not leave so much as your shadow behind ? 

First Tourist. Why, confound it all, do you 
think I want to die of hunger ? 

A Pedlar. {With a comb, mysteriously.) It's real 

A Tourist. Well? 

The Pedlar. It's real tortoise-shell. 

The Tourist. Go to — the devil ! 

One op the Tourists. {With a camera.) For 
goodness' sake, madam, don't sit on my camera. 

The Lady. But where is it ? 

The Tourist. Underneath you, of course ! 

The Lady. And I was so tired I And it is a rott«n 
camera. No wonder it hurt, when I was sitting 
on it. 

The Tourist. {In despair.) Madam ! 

The Lady. And, you know, I thought it was a 
stone. I saw something lying there, and I wondered 
whether it really was a stone. It was so dark. And 
it turns out to be your camera. 

The Tourist. {In despair.) Please, madam ! 

The Lady. But why is it so big ? Cameras are 
always little things, and this is so big. On my word, 
I never thought it was a camera. And can you take 


me ? It would be so nice if you could take me with 
these mountains as a background. 

The Tourist. But how can I take anything with 
you still sitting on it ? 

The Lady. (Jumping up in terror.) What do you 
mean ? Why didn't you tell me ? Has it been 
taking me ? 

Voices. Waiter ! Beer ! — Why is there no wine ? — 
It's been on order a long time — ^What can I bring 
you ? — Shan't be long, sir. This minute ! — Waiter I — 
Waiter ! — A toothpick ! 

{A fat and perspiring tourist rushes in, surrounded 
by children.) 

The Tourist. Masha 1 Sasha ! Peter 1 Where's 
mother ? Oh, my God, where's Masha ? 

A Student. Here she is, father. 

The Tourist. Where is she ? Masha I 

A Girl. Yes, papa. 

The Tourist. But where are you ? {Turns round.) 
Oh, there you are ! Behind me all the time. Look, 
look ! Oh, my God, what are you looking at ? 

The Girl. I don't know, papa. 

The Tourist. No, it's impossible ! Just think, 
she's never once even sewi lightning. She makes 
great eyes until they look like onions, and as soon as 
it flashes — she shuts them. So she's never seen it. 
Masha, you're yawning again. Look, can you see 
him ? 

The Student. She can see, father. 

The Tourist. Keep an eye on her. {Suddenly 
changing to a tone of pity.) Ah, poor young man ! 
No, you'd think he'd be certain to fall. Look, children, 
how pale he Is I see how dangerous it is to climb I 


The Student. {Dully.) He won't drop to-day, 

The Tourist. Nonsense. Who said so ? 

Second Girl. Papa, Masha's got her eyes shut 

The Student. Please let me sit down, father. 
Oh, Lord I I don't think he's going to drop to-day. 
The hall-porter told me so. I am tired ! You 
simply drag us all over the place, from morning till 

The Tourist. Who am I doing it for ? Do you 
think I like it, you idiot ? . . . 

Second Girl. Papa, Masha's doing it again. 

Second Student. And I'm sick of it too. I keep 
on having bad dreams. I was dreaming all night 
about waiters. 

The Tourist. Peter 1 

First Student. And I'm so thin ; I'm only skin 
and bone. I've had enough of it, father. Hand me 
over to a shepherd, or a swineherd. . . . 

The Tourist. Sasha ! 

First Student. You know he won't fall, but you 
believe everything they tell you. Baedeker, too. 
Baedeker's a liar. 

Masha. {Dully.) Papa, he's beginning to fall. 
{The Stranger is shouting something from above. 
General movement. Voices : " Look, he's 
coming " ; binoculars are raised, a few 
photographers move their cameras about in an 
agitated manner ; and the policemen ener- 
getically clear a space.) 

A Photographer. Confound it ! Why on earth 
am I ... All this beastly hurry I 


Second Policeman. Excuse me, but your lens 
is covered up. 
The First Photographer. Oh, the devil ! 
Voices. Sh ! He's going to fall ! No, he's saying 
something. — No, he's falling ! — Sh ! 
The Stranger. {Feebly.) Help I 
ToFRiST. Oh, poor young man ! Masha I Peter ! 
There's a tragedy for you : the sky is clear. Nature is 
beautiful, yet he must fall and hurt himself to death. 
Sasha, do you understand how awful it is 1 
Student. {Dully.) I understand. 
Tourist. And do you understand, Masha ? Just 
think, there's the sky, and there people are eating. 
Everything is so pleasant, but he's got to fall ! What 
a tragedy ! Peter, do you remember Hamlet ? 

Second Girl. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, at 

Student. Yes, I know : at Helsingfors. Why do 
you keep on bothering me, father ? 

Masha. {Dully.) He w£is dreaming about waiters 
all night. 

Sasha. Better order some sandwiches ! 
The Pedlar. It's real tortoise-shell. 
Tourist. {Confidingly.) What, has it been stolen ? 
The Pedlar. Sir ! 

Tourist. {Angrily.) How can it be real, if it 
hasn't been stolen ? 

Bloodthirsty Lady. {Condescendingly.) Are aU 
these your children ? 

Tourist. Yes, madam. A father's responsibilities. 
. . . But, as you see, madam, they rebel : the age-long 
struggle between father and children, madam. . . . 
This is such an awful tragedy, one's heart aches 


from grief, . . . Masha, you're going oj0f to sleep 
again ! 

Bloodthirsty Lady. You are absolutely right : 
children must be hardened. But why do you call this 
an awful tragedy ? Any man who works on a roof 
may have to fall a long way. But here — ^let's see— it 
can't be more than a hundred, or two hundred feet ? 
And I've seen a man fall from the clouds. 

Tourist. {In delight.) What are you saying ! 
Sasha, children, listen ! From the clouds I 

Bloodthirsty Lady. Yes. An aviator fell down 
and smashed himself up on an iron roof. 
Tourist. How awful ! 

Bloodthirsty Lady. That was really tragic ! 
They had to dose me for two hours before I recovered 
my senses. Nearly drowned me, the brutes I I've 
carried smelling salts about with me ever since. 

{A troop of wandering Italian singers and musicians 
appears. The short, stout tenor has a little 
brown beard and large, watery, stupidly- 
meditative eyes : he sings with great sweetness. 
A thin hunchback, with a jockey cap, sings in 
a squeaky baritone. The bass looks like a 
tramp ; he also plays the mandolin. A thin 
woman with a violin rolls her eyes to such an 
extent that only the whites are visible. They 
arrange themselves and sing : " Sul maro 
lucica . . . Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia. . . .") 
Masha. (Dully.) Papa, look ! he's beginning to 
wave his hands about. 
Tourist. Can that be the influence of music ? 
Bloodthirsty Lady, Quite possibly. AU these 
things happen under the influence of music. But it 


may make him fall before he should. Here, you 
musicians, you get off ! Go away now, go away ! 
{A tall tourist, with moustaches pointing upwards, 
arrives, hotly gesticulating, followed by a few 
sympathetic sightseers.) 

Tall Toueist. It's disgusting! Why don't they 
save him ? Grentlemen, didn't you hear him call out 
"Save me"? 

The Othee Sightseees. {In chorus.) Yes, we aU' 

Tall Toueist. There now 1 And I, too, heard those 
very words perfectly plainly : " Save me." Why 
don't they save him ? It's disgusting ! Police, police ! 
Why don't you save him 1 What are you doing 
here ? 

A Policeman. We are clearing a space for him to 

Tall Toueist. Yes, that's quite sensible. But 
why don't you save him ? You ought to save him. 
It's your duty towards humanity. When a man 
asks to be saved, he ought to be saved. Am I right, 
gentlemen ? 

The Sightseees. (In chorus.) Right, absolutely 
right ! He must be saved ! 

Tall Toueist. (Hotly.) We are not heathens, we 
are Christians. We must love our neighbours. Since 
he asks for help, every measure must be made use of 
which lies in the power of the administration. Pohce- 
men, have you taken all these measures ? 

A Policeman. All the lot. 

Tall Toueist. Every one ? Gentlemen, they have 
all been taken. Young man, listen — every possible 
measure to save you has been taken. Do you hear ? 


The Stranger. {Faintly.) Help I 
Tall Tourist. {Excitedly.) Gentlemen, you hear : 
once again he is shouting for help. Policemen, did 
you hear ? 

One of the Sightseers. {Timidly.) In my opinion 
he ought to be saved. 

Tall Tourist. Exactly what I say I I've been 
saying so for the last two horn's. Policemen, did you 
hear ? It's disgraceful 1 »- 

The Same Sightseer. {A little more bravely.) In 
my opinion we ought to apply to the heads of the 

The Other Sightseers. {In chorus.) Yes, yes, 
we've got to make a complaint. It's disgusting I The 
State should not leave its citizens in danger. We all 
pay our taxes. He must be saved. 

Tall Tourist. And what did I say ? Of course 
we've got to go and complain. . . . Young man, 
listen : are you a taxpayer ? What ? I don't hear. 

The Tourist, Peter, Katie, what a tragedy ! — Oh, 
poor young man ! He's got to fall in a minute and 
he's being asked for his inhabited house duty ! 

Katie. {A girl in spectacles, learnedly.) But can 
this be called an inhabited house, papa ? As I 
understand it, a house. . . . 

Peter. {Pinches her.) Swank ! 

Masha. {Stupidly.) Look, papa — he's going to 
fall again. 

{There is again a movement in the crowd, with some 
shouts and agitation among the photographers.) 

Tall Tourist. We must make haste. Gentlemen, 
we must save him at all costs ! Who goes with me % 

Sightseers. {In chorus.) All of us ! 


{They go away, hotly gesticulating. From the cafe 
come sounds of a growing animation ; the 
noise of beer-mugs and the beginning of a loud 
German song can be heard. The waiter has 
now absolutely lost his bearings ; he runs out, 
looks at the sky in despair and wipes his 
perspiring face with a table-napkin. Heated 
orders come through : " Waiter, waiter ! ") 
The Stranger. {Fairly loudly.) Waiter, can't you 
get me some soda water ? 

{The waiter shakes, and looks upward in terror ; he 
sees the Stranger, and goes away pretending 
to have heard nothing. Impatient voices : 
" Waiter 1 Beer!") 
Waiter. This minute ! This minute I 

{Two drunken men come out of the cafe.) 
The Lady. Oh, there's my husband ! Here, quick, 
come here I 
Bloodthirsty Lady. What a beast 1 
First Drunba.rd. {Waving his hands.) Eh, you 
up there — feeling bad, what ? 

The Stranger. {Fairly loudly.) Rotten. Tired 
of it. 
First Drunkard. No drinks up there ? 
The Stranger. I don't think. 
Second Drunkard. What are you talking about 
drinks to him for 1 The man's got to die, and you're 
exciting him with all these temptations. Listen ! 
We've been drinking your health all this time. That 
won't hurt you, will it ? 

First Drunkard. What are you talking about ; 
how could it hurt him ? It can only do him good. 
Listen ! We're awfully sorry for you, by God, we are ! 


but don't you mind that — we're going back to the 
cafe in a minute. 

Second Drunkard. Look what a lot of people 
there are I 

First Drunkard. Come along ; if he falls they 
may close up the caf6. 

{Another little batch of tourists arrives, led by a 
very elegant gentleman — a Special Corre- 
spondent, sent by one of the principal papers of 
Europe. The people who accompany him 
are in a state of extreme gratification ; many 
even leave the buffet to see him, and even the 
waiter smiles pleasantly.) 
Voices. The special correspondent, look I 
The Lady. Oh, mon Dieu ! and my husband isn't 
here yet. 

Tourist. Peter, Masha, Sasha, Katie, Vassia, look 1 
— that is a chief correspondent. You understand — 
the chief correspondent. What he writes is all right. 
Katie. Masha, again you're not looking. 
Sasha. Why not let's have some sandwiches ? 
I'm done up, father 1 One must eat. . . . 

Tourist, {Mournfully.) What a tragedy 1 Katie, 
don't you understand how awful it aU is : such lovely 
weather — and the chief correspondent ! Take out 
your note-book, Peter, your note-book. 
Peter. I've lost it, father. 
The Correspondent. Where is he ? 
Voices. {Obligingly.) There he is, there ! A little 
higher up, still higher 1 No, higher than that ! 

Correspondent. If you please, gentlemen, I'U 
find him for myself. Ah, there he is ! Yes, his 


A Tourist. Wouldn't you like a camp-stool ? 

Correspondent. Thank you. {Sit^ dovm.) Yes, 
his situation is . . . very, very interesting. {Prepares 
his note-hook, and says graciously to the photographers :) 
Have you already taken him, gentlemen ? 

First Photographer. Yes, rather. ... In view 
of the general nature of the place 

Second Photographer. And of the tragical 
situation of the young man. . . . 

Correspondent. Yes ! It's very, very interesting. 

Tourist. You hear, Sasha ? There's a wise man, 
a chief correspondent, and he says it's interesting. 
And you talk about sandwiches — idiot ! 

Sasha. Perhaps he's had enough to eat 

Correspondent. Gentlemen, may I desire you to 
preserve silence ? 

Voices. Keep quiet there, in the caf6 1 

Correspondent. {Calling upwards.) Allow me to 
introduce myself as the chief correspondent of the 
European Press, sent here by the special instructions 
of the editor. I propose to ask you a few questions 
regarding your situation. What is your name ? Your 
social standing ? Your age ? 

{The Stranger mumbles something.) 

Correspondent. {A littU confused.) I can't hear 
anything. Has he been like that all the time ? 

Voices. Yes, you can't hear a word. 

Correspondent. ( Writing something doum. ) That's 
all right. Are you a bachelor ? 

{The Stranger mumbles again.) 

Correspondent. I can't hear ! Are you married ? 
Say it again ! 

A Tourist. He says he's a bachelor. 


Second Tourist. No, of course not. He's married. 

Correspondent. {Carelessly.) You think so ? 
We'll put him down as married. How many children 
have you ? What ? I can't hear. Did he say 
three ? Hm . . . we'll put down five to be on the 
safe side. 

Tourist. What a tragedy 1 Five children, just 

Bloodthirsty Lady. He's a Har ! 

Correspondent. (Shouts.) How did you get into 
your present position ? What ? I don't hear. 
Louder ! Say it again ! {To the crowd.) What's 
that he's saying ? He's got a dashed thin voice. 

First Tourist. I thought I heard him shout that 
he had just lost himself. 

Second Tourist. He doesn't know himself how 
he got up there. 

Voices, He was hunting — He was climbing — 
He's only just a lunatic. 

Correspondent. Permit me, permit me, gentle- 
men — at all events he didn't fall from the clouds. 
Still . . . {Quickly writing down.) " The unhappy 
young man . . . had been afflicted since his earliest 
childhood with paroxysms of insanity. . . . The 
bright radiance of the full moon . . . the wild 
rocks ... a sleepy hotel porter . . . did not 
notice, ..." 

First Tourist. {To Second Tourist, aside.) But 
the moon's only in her first quarter. 

Second Tourist. Do you think the public cares 
anything about astronomy ? w -i - - .- 

Tourist. {In delight.) Masha ! Pay attention ; 
here you have before you a remarkable instance of the 


influence of the moon upon living organisms. But 
what an awful tragedy : to go out for a walk on a 
moonlight night and to climb up to some place from 
which you can neither come down nor be rescued ! 

Correspondent. (Shouts.) What are your feel- 
ings ? I don't hear. Louder ! That's better ! Yes 
. . . it's awkward. 

The Crowd. {Interested.) Listen, listen to what 
his feelings are. How awful it is ! 

Correspondent, {Writing and repeating his words 
in a loud tone of voice.) ' ' A deathly terror enshrouds his 
limbs. . . . An icy horror runs down his back. . . . 
No hope. ... In his mind's eye he sees pictures of 
his erstwhile happy family : his wife is making 
pastries, his five children lift up their angelic voices 
in blameless tenderness. . . . Their grandmother sits 
in an armchair smoking a pipe ... I mean, their 
grandfather, while their . . . grandmother. . . . Ex- 
cited by the sympathy of the crowd — he expressed a 
final wish that his last words should be printed in 
our paper. ..." 

Bloodthirsty Lady. The liar ! 

Masha. Look, now he's going to fall. 

Tourist. {Angrily.) Don't interrupt ! Here is 
such an awful tragedy, and you . . . what are you 
shutting your eyes for ? 

Correspondent. {Shouts.) Hold on for just one 
more minute 1 That's it I My last question is : 
Have you, on the threshold of another world, any 
message for your feUow citizens ? 

The Strangeb. (Feebly.) Tell them all to go to 

Correspondent. What ? Oh yes • t ■ (Writing,) 


" Deep affections ... his last words ... a determined 
opponent of negro-emancipation . . . his last hope 
was that never would these black-faced. ..." 

A Clergyman. {Out of breath, makes his way through 
the crowd.) Where is he ? Ah there ! Unhappy 
youth ! Gentlemen, has there indeed not been any- 
body here of my cloth ? No ? I thank you ! So 
I am reaUy first ? 

Correspondent. {Writing doivn.) "An affecting 
moment. ... A clergyman appeared . . . deep silence 
. . . many were weeping. . . ." 

Clergyman. If you please, if you please ! The 
departing soul wants to make its last peace with 
heaven. {Shouts.) Don't you want to make your 
peace with heaven, my son ? Confess your sins to 
me, and I will give you absolution. What ? I can't 

Correspondent. {Writing.) " Sobs rent the air. 
The representative of the Church in touching words 
exhorted the criminal — I mean, the unfortunate. . . . 
With tears in his eyes the unhappy youth gave thanks 
in a faint voice. ..." 

The Stranger. {Faintly.) If you don't go away, 
I'll fall on you. I weigh twelve stone. 

{All fall back in confusion.) 

Voices. He's falling ; he's falling I 

Tourist. {Excited.) Masha ! Sasha ! Peter ! 

The Policemen. {Energetically.) Stand back, 
please I 

The Lady. Nelly, quick, run and teU your father 
he's falling. 

A Photographer. {In despair.) Oh, good Lord, 
my spool's finished I {Mushes about, looking! at the 


Stranger with distress.) Just one minute I I've got 
some more there, in my overcoat. {He steps back a 
little, still looking at the Stranger, and returns.) No, I 
can't, but if . . . Oh Lord ! It's there, in my coat. 
I'll be back in one minuto. . . . What a fix ! 

Cleegyman. Make haste, my friend, coUect your 
strength if only to confess your important sins. We 
can leave the little ones. 

The Tourist. What a tragedy I 

Correspondent. {Writing down.) "The criminal 
. . . that is, the unfortunate man, expressed general 
contrition . . . and unveiled some terrible mysteries. 
. . . The wretched man had robbed a banker and ..." 

The Tourist. How wicked of him ! 

Clergyman. Firstly, have you committed murder ? 
Secondly, have you stolen ? Thirdly, have you 
committed adultery 1 , . . 

The Tourist. Masha, Peter, Katie, Sasha, Vassia, 
close your ears. 

Correspondent. {Writing.) " The horrified crowd 
. . . cries of indignation. . . ." 

Clergyman. Fourthly, have you taken the name 
of the Lord your God in vain ? Fifthly, have you 
coveted your neighbour's ass, or his ox, or his maid- 
servant, or his wife ? Sixthly. * . . 

A Photographer. What's that about an ass ? 

Second Photographer. Where, where ? I don't 
see any ass ? 

First Photographer, I thought I heard something, 
that's all. 

Clergyman. I congratulate you, my son, I con- 
gratulate you ; you have made your peace with 
heaven. Now you may fearlessly. . . . Ah, God, what 


do I see ? The Salvation Army ! Policemen, send 
them away ! 

{A few Salvationists of both sexes, in uniform and 
carrying musical instruments, approach the 
crowd. There are only three musicians ; they 
are armed with a drum, a fiddle, and a remark- 
ably squeaky trumpet.) 
First Salvationist. {Drumming furiously and 
drawling loudly through his nose.) My brothers and 
sisters. . . . 

Clergyman. [Tries to shout him down and yells 
even more strenuously through the nose.) He has re- 
pented, brothers. Gentlemen, you were witnesses. He 
has repented and he has made his peace with heaven. 
Second Salvationist. [A woman. Stands on a 
stone and wails.) Like that sinner, I too, abode in the 
darkness and evilly indulged in alcohol, before the 
light of the judgment. . . . 

A Voice. She's nearly blind drunk now. 
Clergyman. Policemen, didn't you hear him repent 
and make his peace with heaven ? 

{The First Salvationist drums furiously while the 
others attempt to sing a hymn, to the accompani- 
ment of shouts, laughter and hoots. In the 
cafe they are also trying to sing, and are calling 
the waiter in several languages. A policeman 
is struggling frantically to release himself from 
the grip of the Clergyman, who is trying to get 
him to do something ; the photographers are 
violently excited. A tourist Englishwoman 
appears on a mule which spreads out its legs, 
and contributes its voice to the others. Silence 
is at length restored^ the Salvation Army 


majestically withdraws, and the Clergyman 
* follows it, waving his hands.) 

First English Tourist. {To another. ) How disgust- 
ing ! This crowd has absolutely no idea of manners ! 

Second English Tourist. Let's go away. 

First English Tourist. Half a minute. {Yells.) 
I say, old thing, wouldn't you like to make a short 
job of it ? 

Second English Tourist. What are you saying. 
Sir William ? 

First English Tourist. {Yells.) Don't you see it's 
what they are all waiting for ? It's your duty as a 
gentleman to grant them that, and to save yourself 
from the loss of dignity involved in suffering in public 
— before this mob. 

Second English Tourist. Sir William ! 

Tourist. {In delight.) He's right, he's right ! 
Sasha, Peter, listen, he's right ! What a tragedy ! 

First English Tourist. {Pushing him aside. ) Come 
on down quickly, do you hear ? If you haven't the 
nerve, I can send along a shot to help you. Yes or no ? 

Voices. That devil in brown has gone mad ! 

Policeman. {Seizing the English Tourist by the arm.) 
You have no right to do that. I arrest you. 

A Tourist. A nation of savages. 

{The Stranger shouts something. Excitement 

Voices. Listen, listen I 

The Stranger. {Loudly.) Take that idiot off to 
the devil ; he wants to shoot me. And tell the landlord 
I'm fed up. 

Voices. What's that ? What landlord ? He's 
going mad, poor thing ! 


Tourist. Sasha, Masha, this is a picture of insanity. 
Peter, quick ! remember Hamlet ? 

The Stranger. (Angrily.) Tell him my waist's 
nearly broken in two. 
Masha. (Dully.) Papa, he's waving his legs about. 
Katie. Is that what they call convulsions, papa ? 
Tourist. (Depressed.) I don't know. I suppose 
so ! What a tragedy ! 

Sasha. (Mournfully.) Katie is a fool ! She goes 
to school and all that, and wears spectacles, and 
doesn't know it's the death agony, I'm tired out, papa. 
Tourist. Just think, children, here's a man just 
going to be dashed to pieces, and what does he think 
about ? His waist ! 

(A noise is heard. A few infuriated tourists drag 
in an extremely frightened man tvho wears a 
white waistcoat. He is smiling, he bows to all 
sides, he waves his hands, and so on. He 
attempts an escape, but he is caught again and 
mobbed. ) 
Voices. Filthy swindler I Disgraceful ! Police ! 
police ! He's got to have a lesson ! 

Other Voices. What's the matter ? What's the 
swindle ? What is it ? They've caught a thief. 

The Man". Gentlemen, it's aU a joke, I assure you ; 
really, gentlemen ! Just a joke ! Visitors get so 
bored, and I wanted to amuse them. 
The Stranger. (Loudly.) Landlord ! 
The Man. Just a minute, just a minute. 
The Stranger. Do you think I'm going to stay 
here till Doomsday ? You said tiU twelve o'clock, 
and what's it now ? 

Tall Tourist. (Almost mad with indignation.) Do 


you hear, gentlemen ? It means that that rascal, 
that fellow in the white waistcoat, has hired another 
rascal and just tied him up to the rock. 
Voices. Is he tied on ? 

Tall Tourist. Of course he is, and he can't fall. 
And here we all are, getting excited and waiting for 
him to drop, and he can't ! 

The Stranger. I should say so ! Think I'm going 
to break my back for two pounds t«n ! Landlord, 
I've had enough. Some idiot's been wanting to shoot 
me for two hours — it's more than we agreed on. 

Sasha. Papa said that Baedeker's a liar, but he 
believes anything people tell him and drags us all over 
the place. 

The Landlord. People get so bored. . . . My only 
wish was to amuse the honourable public. 

Bloodthirsty Lady. What's that ? I don't under- 
stand. Why won't he fall ? If he isn't going to fall, 
then who is ? 

Tourist. I don't understand either. Of course, 
he's got to fall. 

Peter. You never understand anything you're 
told, papa. You've been told that he's tied on. 

Sasha. Do you think you're going to convince 
him ? He'll believe any old Baedeker sooner than 
his own children. 

Peter. Our father, too ! 
Tourist. Silence ! 

Bloodthirsty Lady. What's that ? He's got to 

Tall Tourist. But, just think, what a swindle ! 
You've jolly well got to explain the meaning of this, 


Landlord. The public wants to be amused. You 
must forgive me, gentlemen. But the desire to please 
... to provide a few hours of healthy excitement . . . 
to thrill the nerves ... to evoke altruistic sentiments. 

An Englishman. Is that cafe yours ? 

Landlord. Yes. 

Englishman. And is the hotel down below yours ? 

Landlord. Yes ; the public gets. . . . 

The Special Correspondent. (Writes.) "A wicked 
swindle. ... A hotelkeeper, in his desire to increase 
his profits from the sale of spirituous liquors, exploits 
the finest feelings of humanity. . . . The indignation 
of the public. . . ." 

The Stranger, (Hotly.) Are you going to let me 
down or not, landlord ? 

Landlord. What have you got to complain of ? 
Do we bring you down every night, or don't we ? 

The Stranger. If it isn't just about the limit, to 
talk of leaving me hanging here all night. 

Landlord. Can't you wait just a few minutes ? 
They're getting tired of it. . . . 

Tall Tourist. Now, do you understand what 
you've done, you wretch ! For the sake of your filthy 
gains, you have wickedly exploited our love for our 
neighbours. You have forced us to undergo terror 
and sympathy ; you have poisoned our hearts with 
sorrow — and what does it all amount to ? It comes 
to this, that that villain, your wretched accomplice, 
is tied on to the rock and not only wiU not faU, as we 
aU expected, but couldn't if he wanted to. 

The Bloodthirsty Lady. What's that ? He's got 
to fall I 


TouEiST. Police ! PoKce 1 

{The Clergyman reappears, out of breath.) 
Clergyman. Hullo I still alive ? Ah, there he 
is ! What charlatans these Salvation Army people 
are ! 
Voices. You haven't heard ; he can't let go. 
Clergyman. What ? Let go of what ? We are 
all attached to life, until death releases us. But 
whether he's fastened up there or not, at any rate 
I've made him make his peace with heaven, so that's 

aU to the good anyway ! And those charlatans 

Tourist. Police I PoHce 1 You've got to draw up 
an official report. 

Bloodthirsty Lady. {Insultingly to the Landlord.) 
I can't allow you to swindle me like this. I've seen an 
aviator fall out of the clouds and dash himself to 
pieces on a roof. I've seen a tiger tear a woman. . . . 
A Photographer. I've wasted three plates, taking 
that scoundrel. You will answer to me for that, 
my dear sir. 

Tourist. An official report, an official report 1 
How beastly I Masha, Peter, Sasha, Vassia, call the 
poUce I 

Landlord. {In despair.) But I can't make him 
fall if he doesn't want to. I've done aU I could. 
Gentlemen, gentlemen ! 
Bloodthirsty Lady. I won't let you ! 
Landlord. Allow me, gentlemen. On my word, 
he'll fall the next time, but he doesn't want to just 
The Stranger. What's that about next time ? 
Landlord. Do shut up ! 
The Stranger. For two pounds ten ? 


Clergyman. This is indeed deplorable ! Only just 
this minute I reconciled him with heaven at the risk 
of my own life — you heard him threaten to fall on 
my head ? And he's still unhappy. Adulterer ! 
Thief ! Murderer ! Coveter of his neighbour's ass ! . . . 

A Photographer. Gentlemen, an ass ! 

Second Photographer, Where's an ass ? I don't 
see one. 

First Photographer. {Cooling down.) I thought 
I heard something 

Third Photographer. You're an ass I My eyes 
are squinting on your account. 

Masha. {Dully.) Papa, look, here's a policeman. 
{There is movement and noise. On one side of the 
stage the policeman is mobbed, on the other side, 
the landlord ; both are shouting : " By your 
leave, by your leave ! ") 

ToUEiST. Policeman, officer ! Here's this swindler, 
this thief. . . . 

Clergyman. Policeman ! Here's the adulterer, 
thief, murderer, who covets his neighbour's ass. . . . 

Policeman. Permit me, permit me, gentlemen, 
we'll soon make him know where he is and sorry for 

Landlord. But I can't make him fall if he doesn't 
want to ! 

Policeman. Hullo, young man, you up there ! just 
tell us whether you can fall or whether you can't ? 

The Stranger. {Surlily.) I don't want to fall. 

Voices. Aha ! He has confessed ! What a 
wretch ! 

Tall Tourist. Take this down, policeman : — 
" Desiring ... for the sake of profit ... to exploit 


the emotion of love for one's neighbour ... a sacred 
instinct. ..." 

Tourist. Listen, children, they're making out the 
report. What expressiveness I 

Tall Tourist. " A sacred instinct which. . . ." 
Policeman. {Dutifully writing, with his tongue in 
his cheek.) " Love for one's neighbour ... a sacred 
instinct which. . . ."' 

Masha. (Dully.) Papa, look ! here's an advertise- 
ment coming. 

{A few musicians arrive, carrying drums and 
trumpets. In front of them is an individual 
who carries on a long pole an enormous poster 
showing a desperately long-haired man in- 
scribed : " / used to be bald.") 
The Stranger. You're too late I They're drawing 
up the official report here now, old son 1 You'd 
better hop it, quick I 

Advertisement Carrier. {Stops and speaks in a 
loud voice.) I was bald from the day of my birth and 
for a long time after. The scanty growth which covered 
my cranium by the time I had reached my tenth 
year resembled wool rather than hair. On my 
marriage, my skuU was as bare as a cushion and the 
young bride ! . . . 

Tourist. What a tragedy I Just married and 
Buch a head— children, do you understand how awful 
it is ? 

{They all listen with interest, even the policeman 

attends, pen in hand.) 

Advertisement Carrier. {With inspiration.) And 

a moment at last came about when the happiness 

of my wife was literally hanging on a_ hair. All 



the methods for restormg hair recommended by 
quacks. . . . 

Tourist. Take out your note-book, Peter. 

Bloodthirsty Lady. But when is he going to 
drop ? 

Landlord. {Obligingly.) Next time, madam, next 
time. ... I won't tie him on so firmly . . . you 
see ? 



The Bomb Shop 

Hendersons 66 Char- 
ing Cross Road London